Emotional intelligence February 26, 2023 by Belinda EganThe most effective leaders are all alike in one crucial way: They all have a high degree of what has come to be known as emotional intelligence. It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant. They do matter, but…they are the entry-level requirements for executive positions. -Daniel Goleman Hot take: you shouldn’t “leave your feelings out of it” in the workplace. In fact, you should embrace your emotional experience at work and use it to help you build stronger teams. Emotional intelligence is the awareness and utilization of emotions in order to build healthy, productive relationships. Leading with emotional intelligence is a person-focused approach that fosters respect, healthy communication, and vulnerability. The ESCI model, developed by Richard Boyatzis and Daniel Goleman in 1996, divides emotional intelligence into four key areas: Self-awareness: Your ability to recognize and control your emotional responses Social awareness: Your ability to recognize other people’s emotional responses and react appropriately Self-management: Emotional self-control, looking for ways to do things better, a positive outlook and your ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances Relationship management: Your ability to influence, mentor, inspire and encourage teamwork with others These are not small fish to fry. Each of these pillars of emotional intelligence takes years of intentional practice and attention to do well. If there’s an imbalance in any of these areas, your success as a leader can be affected, so you should take good care of your emotional health as a top priority. Here are some practical steps you can take in each of these four areas to increase your emotional intelligence. Pillar 1: Self-Awareness Know Thyself When planning an event outside, you check the weather. The last thing you’d want to do is invite everyone over for a BBQ only to get rained out. People who lack good self-awareness are inviting others to hang out in their backyard with dark storm clouds overhead. The weather might blow over and improve, but the impending storm will be in the back of everyone’s mind and people will not be enjoying themselves fully. As a leader, it’s crucial that you’re aware of your inner dialogue and emotional state, and that you remain in control of both. Even if you slept poorly, are having marital problems, are sick or emotionally fragile, your people are depending on you to be stable and present. Regardless of how busy you are, you need to spend time by yourself daily to acknowledge your suffering and make a plan to keep it from negatively affecting others. This takes practice and a lot of mindfulness, but it’s achievable. Here are some ways to practice self-awareness: Keep a daily journal of your emotional experience – what’s going on in your life, how you feel about it, how you plan to manage it Record a voice memo and talk yourself through how you’re feeling. Don’t censor yourself! Pretend you’re talking to your best friend or therapist. Nothing is off limits. If you’re feeling it, it’s valid. Remind yourself every day that you are only in control of how you react to your circumstances, not the circumstances themselves. This empowers you to calm the storm inside and look for a break in the clouds. If you’re not keenly aware of your emotional state and how to manage it, your team will suffer. Make it a priority to practice daily self-awareness. Pillar 2: Social Awareness In Tune With Others A leader who’s highly emotionally intelligent is tuned in to all of the dynamics of their team. They’re aware of precarious power balances between members, recognize heightened emotional states and tensions of each member, and they take all this into consideration when leading. Practicing empathy every day at work keeps you in tune with your team. Ask them how they’re doing and listen attentively to their answers. Check in throughout the day with members you know are struggling through a challenge at work or in their personal lives. Pillar 3: Self-Management Lead Yourself First You can’t lead others well if you’re not managing your own life effectively. Self-management involves controlling your emotions, seeking to do things in a better way, maintaining a positive outlook in all areas of your life, and a commitment to consistent self-development. Good self-management requires a strong growth mindset, meaning that you believe in (and act on) your ability to change your circumstances. A good leader has a system for measuring results. In this case, it’s important for you to be aware of your character flaws and areas for improvement in your self-development. Once you know what you’d like to improve on (ie. emotional control, thriving in stressful situations etc), create a benchmark that will show you you’re growing. Check in with yourself frequently to see how you’re measuring up. Journaling or developing a personal development plan with your therapist or trusted advisor are great ways to measure your growth. Pillar 4: Relationship Management The quality of your relationships define the quality of your life, both in your personal and professional life. Relationship management is measured by your ability to influence, mentor, inspire and encourage those you lead. First, be someone others can respect and admire. Make the right decision even if no one is watching. Act with honor and purpose, and keep the well-being of others at the center of your actions. Second, always be aware of how you come across to others. Do your team members feel comfortable approaching you with anything, whether big or small, silly or important? Basically, if you have all of the three previous pillars well-managed, your relationships at work will thrive by default. You’ll free your mental resources up to do more leading with purpose! Emotional intelligence is crucial as a leader – so crucial, in fact, that organizations with a solid reputation will choose leaders high in EI over those with lengthy experience in the field. Challenge yourself to level up your emotional intelligence this year. Join the revolution of Courageous Leaders making a lasting impact in the workforce by joining our newsletter.